“I wanted to do anything but join the family business,” observes Satya Tiwari. But that’s precisely what he did. In 2004, he left a fledgling career in finance behind to join Surya, the rug company started by his father in 1976. At the time, it was a modestly sized manufacturing operation doing a few million in revenue a year. Tiwari was ambitious, and he built a massive wholesale operation, account by account, over the course of two decades. Last year, the business got even bigger, with a series of acquisitions that culminated in the surprise purchase of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
On this episode of The Business of Home Podcast, Tiwari shares the story behind the runaway growth of Surya (he says the company’s revenue is now in the neighborhood of $500 million a year). He also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the November acquisition of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and shares his plans for the brand. “We are not thinking about how we maximize Mitchell Gold over the next six months or 12 months—it’s about the next 20, 30 years,” he tells host Dennis Scully. “We have the opportunity here: We have [some of the leadership team] with us; we have Mitchell Gold as an advisor. We want to build the right way. If we don’t do that, if [the company] fails again, then this brand is dead. So we’ve got to be very cautious—how do we launch right?”
Crucial insight: Tiwari says much of Surya’s growth has come from listening to its most vocal customers. Retail buyers hated the quick discontinuation of rugs, so he pushed to keep all the SKUs available for at least a year and a half. Shops hated having to buy a ton of inventory, so he introduced a swatch program. “Everyone will say they listen to their customers. Not everyone can guarantee that they really follow through,” he says. “[Doing that] has been the biggest driver of our growth. There’s no magic here.”
Key quote: “2024 will be a turbulent year. It could be positive turbulence or negative turbulence,” says Tiwari. “[If you] do what you do better, find opportunities in your business, and cut costs where you can … sometimes turbulent times have the most opportunity.”
The Thursday Show
BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus joins host Dennis Scully to discuss the biggest news in the industry, including a controversial leaked memo from Wayfair’s CEO, the breakup of a successful design duo, and a look at what trend forecasters are saying about 2024. Later, Alexa Hampton shares her new book and her New Year’s resolutions.